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Mar 13, 2012

Palmer an unnecessary distraction: FFA

Unfazed by Clive Palmer's latest threat, Football Federation Australia (FFA) boss Ben Buckley has dismissed the billionaire ex-Gold Coast licence holder as "an unnecessary distraction".

And Buckley has slammed Palmer's new Football Australia organisation, saying its recently-launched national inquiry into football should be "treated with the level of disdain that it deserves".

Buckley said in Brisbane on Wednesday the door was still open for a Gold Coast A-League side to play next season after holding talks with "interested parties".

A new Western Sydney franchise still appears more likely while Canberra remains a long-term option.

But the FFA boss has clearly lost patience with Palmer after the mining magnate again made headlines for all the wrong reasons this week.

Palmer's latest move is threatening to sue FFA for $20 million unless they return Gold Coast United's A-League licence.

He has also announced that Football Australia will hold a commission of inquiry to gather submissions from "all stakeholders" on how to improve the code.

"Clive's behaviour is an unnecessary distraction for the game," Buckley said.

"He is setting out to destabilise the great work done by ... all who have got behind football in the last five or six years to re-establish football as one of the prominent sports in this country."

He was just as damning of Football Australia's national inquiry.

"It has no relevance," he said.

"It shouldn't be taken seriously by the football public.

"In fact, I think in some ways people are being deceived by its establishment.

"People should treat it with the level of disdain that it deserves."

Of Palmer's threat to sue FFA, Buckley said: "I have seen the headline. I haven't seen anything that sits behind it.

"That (legal action) is something for Clive to consider.

"Our focus is on the remainder of the season, and also building for next year."

Buckley will continue talks with a potential Gold Coast saviour but urged United fans to show their support and attend the team's remaining home games.

"All those things will help determine the final outcome," Buckley said of the prospect of a big Gold Coast crowd.

"We haven't ruled out Gold Coast United.

"We are in discussions with parties who are interested in taking on the licence and building upon what has already been established.

"We will assess that in the next few weeks."

The FFA said on Wednesday it was looking at the "long term viability" of a Canberra team after it was reported they were considering bringing in either a team from the national capital, western Sydney or a Palmer-less Gold Coast next season.

Local businessman and bid leader Ivan Slavich has been mounting a case for a Canberra team for the past four years, with the support of the ACT government and investors.

"It hasn't been taken out of context - it just wasn't for next season," a FFA spokesman said of the report.

"His (FFA chairman Frank Lowy's) comment was looking at the long-term viability in Canberra."

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